Happy Birthday, Max from A Goofy Movie!
Today is the birthday of an important person in my life. While you may not immediately recognize the name Jason Marsden, I would find it hard to believe if you didn't recognize him from one of his seemingly endless roles in film and television.
Jason is also considered a friend of 106.1 KISS-FM as he came by for an interview on The Rob's Radio Show a few years ago, although sadly it was on a day I was out of town. While I'm sad I missed my opportunity to meet Marsden, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish him a very happy birthday, and retell the story I wrote five years ago of how important his performance as Goofy's son Max in A Goofy Movie is to me:
On April 7th, 1995 Walt Disney Pictures released A Goofy Movie to theaters. It was following a string of mega-blockbuster animated features; The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and finally The Lion King, so maybe that is to explain why 1995’s A Goofy Movie is lesser-known and somewhat swept under the rug. But in my opinion, it’s the best of the nineties Disney movies, and actually my favorite Disney movie ever, as well as my favorite kids’ movie in general.
People my age (34) have usually seen A Goofy Movie, but if you go a few years older or a few years younger, I’ve found that they have not. To those who haven’t, you’re missing out on a fantastic and complete Disney experience.
A Goofy Movie has everything that makes a Disney animated feature so beloved, and it does those things well. It has the trademark Disney characters, in this case Disney mainstays Goofy and Pete, the rotund, brash dog-thing whose house neighbors Goofy’s. It also stars Goofy and Pete’s pre-teen sons, friends Max and P.J., who became popular in the 90’s Disney cartoon Goof Troop. It also introduces new personalities like the stunning love-interest Roxanne and the cheese-loving Bobby (voiced by an uncredited Pauly Shore). It has the heart-warming story Disney audiences expect, filled with light-hearted action, adventure, and a moral. It also has a wonderfully endearing soundtrack that I think could compete with Disney’s bests (like Lion King and Aladdin). Here is an example, a song called "Stand Out."
A Goofy Movie tells the story of an aging, uncool but good-intentioned Goofy who fears his son is heading down the wrong path in life. Max isn’t a bad kid by any stretch of the imagination, but makes arguably a very poor choice on the last day of school, orchestrating an elaborate plot to take over an assembly at school to show off his cool dance moves to impress the girl of his dreams, Roxanne.
Max and company get caught, and their parents get informed. Goofy arranges a summer vacation to reconnect with his boy, but the vacation conflicts with a hot date Max had FINALLY secured with Roxanne to watch a Powerline concert on Pay-Per-View. Max wrestles mentally with how to tell Roxanne he can’t make it… Finally lying to her saying he was going to be AT the concert in Los Angeles. Roxanne thinks that’s super-cool, and understands why she had to get blown off.
One problem… Max is going to Lake Destiny with his dad. Not L.A. with Powerline.
Powerline, while only on screen for a few moments, provides a lot to the film. He’s based on late real-life superstar Prince and provides the songs that move the story along. His big hit is “I 2 I” (pronounced “Eye to Eye”) and if this isn’t a smash hit, then I don’t know what is. It’s as good as any original Disney song before or after. The soundtrack is really one of my favorites, and I’m not ashamed to say I have three songs from it on my phone, including “I 2 I.”
(SPOILER ALERT) While on the way to Lake Destiny, Max and Goof find themselves in all sorts of adventures, from an encounter with Big Foot, to some crooning possums at Lester’s Possum Park. They wind up meeting up with Pete and P.J. and almost lose their lives by falling off of a waterfall! Max alters the map and changes the location from the dismal Lake Destiny to the Powerline concert. When Goofy learns about why the concert is so important to his son, he agrees to get him to it… Not only that, Papa Goof even gets the two of them on stage during the final encore! Max discovers that maybe his dad isn’t as lame as he first thought, and they become tighter because of their adventure.
This story of father bonding with pre-teen son also had a special impact on me because I was 11 when the movie came out, and I had lost my dad only a year and a half prior. As a character, Max is probably the most relatable to me that Disney has ever created… Ever. He dressed like me, talked like me, acted like me, listened to the same kind of music I did, and had a crush on a girl that was way out of his league… He was the most “human” character Disney has ever created (despite actually being an animated dog).
While the movie has aged in its 23 years, I have to recommend everyone sees A Goofy Movie. It’s a subtle, under-the-radar Disney masterpiece that I think is actually the premiere. Also, stay away from its sequel An Extremely Goofy Movie… That movie sucks.